Skipper, Captain, Commander – these words played little part in my daily vocabulary until a month ago when I responded to an email from my friend Jenny F asking me to take part in the Ladies Skipper race organised by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Kirribilli. At first I thought the email was for someone else but no, it was meant for me and, after much reflection, I decided to take up the challenge thinking it was a one-off race. Quite the contrary! It was the weekly Paspaley Tuesday Twilight Series! Hmm.
One month on, and my life has changed! Truly. I’m checking Sea Breeze apps, tide charts, discussing sailing tactics and even persuading my husband to go out for practice sails. A keen sailor since he was 7 (we even met through sailing), he cannot believe his luck as he’s tried numerous enticements over the years to get me out there more! Such a simple answer…
On my “L” plates for sure, I’m fully realising the more I sail the more I don’t know. It has brought out primal feelings of terror, surprise and excitement as I take the helm and inch up towards windward trying to gain a few extra metres or wait patiently for the wind to kick-in. On the first night, the winds maxed to 30 knots; the tell-tales having a grand time in the gusts as I held on tightly to the wheel, in survival mode. Light winds dominated the third race and I heard repeatedly the catch cry, “it’s one of the trickiest points of sail” as we were on a run waiting for a breeze to take us over the finish line.
The camaraderie and encouragement of the mostly female crew is a sheer delight and I’m enjoying being actively in and with the energy of the elements. The feel and sound of the wind and waves as well as the huge expanse of the harbour are both liberating and exhilarating. I’ve even felt tiny seeds of competitiveness in me – a surprise! And I’m actually looking forward to getting the feel of the boat more. Onwards!